Two Poems by Cal Freeman

by: Cal Freeman

These two poems by Cal Freeman induce in the reader a type of hypnogogic trance to explore the surreal sense of being trapped that is the tenor of our times, where “for bones,/ the self is a chore” and, upon reflection we conclude that “despair/ is still the only honest answer.”

Note-Taking While Listening to “Here Comes a Regular”

Unlike any, maybe,
after the mavens of
dirty light picked up

accents of dust
and spoke to you in them
in a manner

that could only be described as kind,
platinum replicas uncanny
in their resemblance

to everyone you’ve known,
sophisticates of the dive,
and diving, you,

in your chitinous skin,
blue veins glowing
through like inky water of

a squid’s circumference.


The Answer to Your Question Is, “For Crickets,

dew isn’t much of a test,
just rosin on serried wings. For bones,
the self is a chore. The femurs labor

beneath absurd demands of dignity
and strength while the clavicle pops
painlessly. Are you familiar

with the little dervish known as August,
its creek beds dried to trickles, its sun-blanched
lawns choked with weed and thistle?

There’s too much written
about the tongue to add meaningfully
to the discourse, except this: ejection

of bite block or bit is what classicists
call kairos, the state calls rebellion,
and time itself calls emulsification

or the will to swallow mush.
I see drooling men grown sympathetic
with age and scalpelled facial lines

considering a statute protecting parentage
from disavowal. If a statue
is less artful than a topiary tree,

let the miniature giraffes go to work
and call it legislation, I’ve always said.
If the song is a succession of chirps

rather than a euphonic sequence
of reverberations in mahogany, despair
is still the only honest answer.”


Cal Freeman was born and raised in Detroit, MI. He is the author of the books Brother Of Leaving (Marick Press) and Fight Songs (Eyewear Publishing). His writing has appeared in many journals including New Orleans Review, Across the Margin, Passages North, The Journal, Commonweal, Drunken Boat, and The Poetry Review. He is a recipient of The Devine Poetry Fellowship (judged by Terrance Hayes) and he has also been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and creative nonfiction. He regularly reviews collections of poetry for the radio program Stateside on Michigan Public Radio. He currently lives in Dearborn, MI and teaches at Oakland University.

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